Spotlight on the AAPA/PAEA 2017 Preceptor of the Year

The shortage of clinical sites and preceptors is one of the most pressing issues facing the profession, and the award is one way that our two organizations encourage all PAs to precept students. Earlier this year, the organizations chose David Day, EdS, MPAS, PA-C, as the 2017 recipient of this prestigious award.

Day is a 1995 graduate of the Wichita State University PA program, which he completed after working as a hospital aide at the age of 16 and later as an LPN and RN. Since 2009, Day has worked in primary care and emergency medicine at Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital in WaKeeney, Kansas.

Years later, Day continues to serve as a preceptor due to an instilled responsibility to give back to the PA profession. He notes, “As a professional, I feel I have an obligation to provide training opportunities to current students.”

He also has one eye on the future PA workforce of the rural Kansas area where he lives and practices. He has found it challenging to convince future PAs to take rural positions if they haven’t previously experienced that lifestyle and work, so he tries to give as many students that experience as possible.

Precepting students is sometimes seen as a possible drag on a PA’s ability to see patients, and there’s an ongoing conversation around whether precepting students decreases productivity. But Day, who has precepted more than 50 students, says this is not the case. Even in the beginning, when students understandably need “more hand-holding,” he finds a way around it.

“I have the student see every other patient, so I see a patient when the student is seeing a patient and things even out,” he says. “Later in the clinical education, students are more experienced and things move more smoothly. Overall, my productivity has not ever decreased due to student precepting.”

At the end of the day, seeing it “click” for students and watching them perform a new skill provides Day with the encouragement to keep precepting students, and he recommends that others consider it as well.

“Precepting can be a fun endeavor and lead to many long-term relationships,” he said. “The student you are precepting today may be the provider taking care of you or your family tomorrow. I find it very fulfilling when seeking healthcare personally and I am seen by a student that I helped to educate.”